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Founder and lead pastor for The Orchard Church of Tupelo, Baldwyn, and Oxford, Bryan Collier is one of the featured presenters at a Men’s Conference, set for Jan. 31-Feb. 2 at Crossroads DeSoto Church, 1471 Highway 51 North in Hernando. Open to all interested men, the conference also serves as a kick-off for the new men’s ministry of the DeSoto County church.  

Today’s men are in many ways viewed as being passive and not properly filling the leadership roles God made men to be in the family, the home and in the church. 

A speaker for an upcoming Men’s Conference at Crossroads Church DeSoto, 1471 Highway 51 South in Hernando, believes that should change to benefit today and future generations.

Bryan Collier is the founder and lead pastor of The Orchard Church, a multi-campus church centered in Tupelo, Oxford and in Baldwyn. Collier has more than 20 years in pastoral ministry and his interests include leadership issues, church for the unchurched and cultural dissection.

He will present during the Saturday evening session of the three-day conference, which will start with Life Fellowship lead pastor Patrick Conrad on Friday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. Conrad leads the multi-campus DeSoto County church in Olive Branch, Southaven, Walls and Hernando, and has been in ministry since 2002.

Richard Russo, new assistant football coach at Horn Lake High School, will present on Saturday, Feb. 1 at 5 p.m. Russo has been active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and is a 19-year veteran of football coaching, including the past seven years as head coach at Independence High School before coming to Horn Lake after last season.

The Friday and Saturday portion of the conference, open to all men age 18 and older, is focused on “men being leaders in the church.” Crossroads’ morning service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday will center on “men being leaders in the home.”

Collier sees the role of men as leaders having changed over the past generations.

“The word that gets thrown around a lot is, although I think it is a little strong, is that men are emasculated today, primarily because we are the most passive,” Collier said. “I think about the difference between my grandfather’s generation and my generation. The passivity has grown from my grandfather, through my father to me and it has a dramatic effect on spouses and children. We’re only just beginning to see the long-term effects of that.”

Collier will then point to God’s Word as what Biblical manhood should look like.

“We need to recapture a Biblical idea of what Biblical manhood is and it means to be responsible,” Collier pointed out. “When we should be stepping up, we are stepping back. For me, the first step is recapturing what Biblical men look like, because we don’t know.”

The problem with men being passive can actually date back to Adam, Eve, and the Garden of Eden, Collier explained.

“The perfect example of passivity is right there in Genesis where Eve takes the apple from the Tempter and eats it,” said Collier. “She then gave some to the man who was with her, so Adam was right there. He stood by and watched Eve doing something that he knew was against the command of God. He did not step up, he just stepped back and let it happen.”

But Collier then points to Christ as the model to follow.

“It is the example of Christ, that is the aim, that Christ provides the main example for what Godly manhood and, on the other side, what Godly womanhood should be,” he said. “The redeemed example in all of this is Christ. We have a long history of stepping and Christ asks us to step forward.”

The weekend conference is also meant to be part of a kickoff for a new men’s ministry for Crossroads Church DeSoto, another non-denominational church in Hernando led by its pastor, Wayne Hill. Collier noted that men coming together to help support each other in ministry, and in life in general, is important.

“The two affirmations that men need to hear are, ‘You’re not crazy,’ and the second one is, ‘You’re not alone,’ in pursuing Godly manhood,” Collier said. “Most often, we feel like that’s a solo sport, so we act different, we think differently, we pursue different things until we look around the culture and think that we’re the only one doing this. You need a group of men who go, ‘You’re not crazy. In fact, we’re pursuing this too.’”

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's website, National Kids Count, approximately 35 percent of children under 18 live in a single-parent home as of 2016. Over 18 million children do not live with a father figure. Calling it a crisis in America, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 19.7 million children, more than 1 in 4, live without a father in the home.

Current attitudes about marriage, manly leadership, and a father’s role in a family need to change.

“It’s a responsibility that we have with the next generation, and not necessarily men who are younger than us, to show them what it means to be a Godly man and Godly father, Godly husband,” said Collier. “This generation and the generations beneath us have the greatest incidence of fatherlessness. That’s fathers who are absent because of work or fathers absent because of abandonment, they go and do something else.”

Cost of the conference is $40 per person for the three-day gathering, which is Friday, Jan. 31 from 7-9 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 1 from 5-9 p.m. with a break for dinner catered by Moe’s Southwest Grill at 6 p.m., and then concluding during Sunday services, Feb. 2 at 10:30 a.m. Visit crossroadsdesoto.com and click the Men’s Ministry tab under “More” on the home page for more information.

Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.